Barnet Council has agreed to look into alternatives to a weed killer that has been linked to cancer.

Roundup – a product that contains the world’s most common herbicide, glyphosate – is used by the council to keep weeds under control across the borough.

The chemical has been widely used for decades and is authorised for use by the European Union.

But manufacturer Monsanto has paid out millions of dollars in damages during the past year after US courts ruled in favour of claimants who said the chemical had caused them to develop cancer.

In July, the London Assembly passed a motion calling on all boroughs to cease the spraying of glyphosate as soon as possible.

Hammersmith and Fulham has already stopped using the substance, while Hackney and Croydon are trialling alternatives.

At a meeting of the environment committee on Wednesday (September 11), Cllr Jo Cooper (Labour), East Barnet, called for the council to phase out the use of glyphosate.

She said the council should be “proactive” and stop using what she called a “dangerous chemical.”

Jamie Blake, the council’s executive director of environment, said Roundup was the most effective weed killer currently available.

He said: “If members want to move away from that particular product, I am sure we can find something else – but there will be cost implications.

“There is no doubt in my mind that if you change the product, there will be far more weeds in the street.”

Mr Blake said the council used a “far weaker product” than that on sale in the shops.

But Cllr Cooper said: “You can’t quantify the slight budget changes in using a different product to the health of the people of Barnet.

“And we have to be very careful that the high risks of the costs of this product on people’s health are taken into account.”

Committee chairman Cllr Dean Cohen (Conservative) said the council had been monitoring trials of alternative weed killers.

Mr Blake agreed to bring a report back to the committee showing what the council is currently doing on weed control and what alternatives to glyphosate could be used.

The report will include the work being carried out by other London boroughs on different methods of weed control.

Bayer – the German firm that now owns Monsanto – says an “extensive body of research” shows glyphosate and its glyphosate-based products “can be used safely and are not carcinogenic”.